Critical Questions for the College Tour

  • By Lea Naiz
  • 15 Jan, 2014
Critical Questions for the College Tour

Spring Break is a fantastic time to visit college campuses. I understand that students are most interested in super critical facts like: whether sushi is offered with the meal plans; does the Rec Center have the newest elliptical machines; and how much closet space is available in the dorms. But let’s go out on ledge and consider the important, nay the absolute most important questions one should ask at the time of a campus visit.

Four questions you MUST ask:

• What is the school’s graduation rate for students similar to you in terms of family and academic background?
• What is the job-placement rate of the college’s graduates; especially within the field you are interested in studying?
• What is the average debt of students at graduation?

• Apart from the famous alumni that every school likes to blab about, where are last year’s graduates working and what are they earning, on average? How about five years ago? Ten years ago?
Thankfully, there is a new gizmo in town that provides factual data on colleges; Economics Success Metrics answer the question-‘What am I buying and is it worth it?’ Let’s face it, college is a huge investment. The savvy consumer does the research to make sure it’s a smart one.
The New College Calculus

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/10/16/the-new-college-calculus.html

“Going to college is still worth it, but the question students and parents increasingly should be asking these days is whether it’s worth going to any college for any major at any cost, especially if they need to take on mounds of debt to earn their degree.”
Economics Success Metrics
States with ESM websites:
Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia
By Shelly Humbach 10 Oct, 2017
Denver, Colorado: October is College & Career Readiness Month and starting October 16, 2017 at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Denver, Denver Public Schools will be hosting their College Access for All Event. Started in the fall of 2014, this program has nearly doubled every year. Recent numbers indicate upwards of 1700 DPS students are registered to participate in this historic program. Applying to college can be a daunting task and the goal is to have as many seniors finish their application as is humanly possible. Independent Educational Consultants from College Consultants of Colorado will be helping to coordinate and direct approximately 30-40 additional adult volunteers.

Independent Educational Consultants strive to help students and families navigate the complex college application process and generally work with students individually or in small groups. “Having an opportunity to work with thousands of high schools seniors to help them complete the application process is a win-win. These kids are motivated, smart and inspiring and it’s a privilege to walk along side them”, commented Shelly Humbach, a Denver based Certified Educational Planner.

The goals of DPS Application Week is to
  • Have each senior complete at least one college application. 
  • This may be a 4-year, 2-year and/or tech school application.
  • Time permitting; CCC volunteers will discuss next steps to enrollment, such as essays, Letters of Recommendation and financial aid assistance.
  • 4-year college application waiver codes will be available from every all Colorado colleges and universities present at the event.
  • Student will leave with a College Resource Guide as well as an “exit” form to aid in any final steps to completion.
  • School Counselors will also be provided with a Resource Guide.

College Consultants of Colorado
was established in 2008, as a consortium of Independent Educational Consultants whose professional training and backgrounds allow them to effectively serve students and their families in the college planning and search process. Our Mission is to promote community awareness of the benefits of using independent college professionals and to expand our knowledge of the college admissions process through shared information, continued professional development and collaboration. http://www.collegeconsultantsofcolorado.com/

Dates: Oct 16 & 17, Oct 23, 24, & 25
Times: 9:30a – 12:30p
Location: Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Denver , 3203 Quebec St. Denver, CO
By Shelly Humbach 07 Sep, 2017

I bet you think you know about pharmacy and what pharmacists do; I know you’re picturing the woman in a dingy white coat, standing behind the counter at King Soopers. I bet you’re wrong. I know I was. I recently had the good fortune to visit the St Louis College of Pharmacy and I have two words for you. Mind. Blown . No doubt I definitely missed my calling (not really) and should have been a pharmacist. Why? ‘Cause these folks are doing incredible work with patients and other health care professionals, all across the vast health care spectrum. Not only that but they get to mix chemicals and other cool stuff and that’s just plain fun!

So what is ABO, “Ability Based Outcome”? ABO refers to simultaneously training students as both a pre professional and professional and this strongly differentiates students in the marketplace. STLCOP is the 1st college to adopt this approach, and is truly the last institution of this type in the country. Students are involved in both a didactic and practical way; all courses are taught with a spin toward pharmacy and in the spirit of “teaching in the round”. STLCOP integrates the undergraduate/pre professional program, essentially eliminating a full year to degree. Other schools require a Bachelor of Science first in order to progress into the doctorate program.

The St Louis College of Pharmacy is located in the Washington University Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading biomedical complexes and just blocks from the famed Forest Park, ranked No. 1 in the “Best City Park” category of USA Today’s 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards. This is fertile ground for the exploration and advancement of all things medicine. Because St Louis is an economic constellation of health care programs, the location is ideal for students to learn, practice and research together.  

Established in 1864, St Louis College of Pharmacy is the oldest pharmacy college west of the Mississippi, and is known for “its rich history, unparalleled location, commitment to innovation and engagement in the community.” And this is not your mother’s college of pharmacy. In spite of the laser like focus on education and employment, this school has NAIA Division I Athletics (read: athletic scholarships) and Greek life!

Whether you’re interested in being an entrepreneur, curing HIV or Ebola or want to contribute to the health and welfare of animals, you can do this in pharmacy. STLCOP educates “ entrepreneurs, infectious disease and oncology pharmacists, clinical practitioners, hospital administrators, biomedical researchers, corporate executives, national pharmacy association leaders , and many more experts in leading-edge areas.”

 

Fun Facts:

250 faculty/staff

1400 students

Degrees Awarded:

Doctor of Pharmacy

Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences

Bachelor of Science in Health Humanities

Robust Alumni Network - more than 7000 living alumni practicing in 48 states and 14 countries

All students issued a laptop

International learning in 4th prof year

 

Starting Median Salary - $122,000

1.6% Unemployment Rate

3% Projected Growth In Demand For Pharmacists by 2024

U.S. News and World Report ranked pharmacist among the “Best Jobs” of 2016.

#18 in “Best Paying Jobs”

#21 in “Best Health care Jobs”

#36 in “100 Best Jobs”

 

This college is simply thriving. They have recently completed their largest campus expansion project. Fall of 2016 brought the unveiling of a 213,000-square-foot Academic Research Building with state-of-the-art technology for learning and research. And I had the chance to feast my eyes on the grand opening of a 193,000-square-foot Recreation and Student Center and Residence Hall. Wow.

Not only is Cost of Attendance (COA) reasonable at $42,000 per year (honestly I can’t believe I just wrote that) but students are completely immersed in the profession, right out of the gate. STLCOP offers Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPEs ), which introduce students to the profession . This includes assisting with dispensing prescriptions and creating a medication management plan for patients.

Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs ) immerse students in their role as a pharmacist through eight five-week rotations during their final professional year. Students work along side pharmacists, across the country, in hospitals, clinics and community pharmacies.

On top of all this fabulous-ness you have to love STLCOP’s mascot. Meet

Mortarmer McPestle, a Eutectic. “Eutectic” describes the scientific process of two solids being combined to form a liquid. Can’t say you didn’t learn something here.

By Shelly Humbach 17 Aug, 2017

Every year, I find myself hanging on to the last precious days of summer break, a feeling deeply rooted both in my childhood and the strong desire to spend time with my kids. They are now 25, 22 and 18 and I still want just a little more time.

This summer “stronghold” began when I was a little girl. I grew up in the most awesome neighborhood that sported a fort/make-out shack, a pond, complete with Garter snakes and horse stables. Can you imagine a more fantastic playground? Memories of riding my horse from sun up until sun down remain vivid, showing up in my dreams, from time to time. The smell of sweet clover, or the ripples of high water in the Highland Canal evoke surreal flashbacks.

As time marches on, this inevitable desire to make summer last forever lingers. And regardless of the age and stage of my children, I simply covet the summertime feeling of an easier schedule, occasional sleeping in and late nights on the deck.

As August comes to a close, I cannot fight back the hint of nostalgia, even sadness. It happens every year and I suspect and hope it will happen every year hereafter.

Here’s to a spectacular Indian summer. I hope you’ll find something useful in this post and maybe even a tip or two to ease that “Back-To-School” feeling.

My wish is for health, happiness and maybe even a little world peace.

By Shelly Humbach 10 Aug, 2017

Campus safety. This is a topic of growing concern for the families I work with, especially parents of daughters. Having three of my own, I get it. In fact, I find myself consistently researching the current status of college campuses with regard to what they are doing to combat this very real and dangerous issue.  To be clear, one in five women are sexually assaulted in college , according to the most recent research.

There are far too many national news stories of campus sex assault. Often the allegations involve a frat brother or an athlete. The 2016 Stanford swimmer case was for me, particularly disturbing as the perpetrator was assaulting an unconscious female. Who does that? Indeed, this level of sick behavior is shocking, unconscionable and leaves me feeling horrified and helpless.

My focus is about taking real and affective action to end campus rape and I need answers and guidance. Introducing Keep Her Safe, a 501c3 not for profit organization whose purpose is to inform and educate parents so they can make demands of college administrations to effect positive change and ultimately end campus sex assault.

I’ve always told my girls to be smart, not scared and Keep Her Safe embodies this concept. Keep Her Safe is about empowering us to go from concerned spectators to proactive parents.

College should be about learning, growing and safe, self-discovery. Check out Keep Her Safe . Get involved. Let’s demand change and be part of the solution to campus rape. Let’s be smart, not scared.

http://www.keephersafe.org/college-orientation-campus-sexual-assault-prevention/

By Shelly Humbach 15 Jun, 2017

As my daughter leaves for college in Europe, you can bet I’ll have the following legal documents in place: Advance Care Directive for Health Care, Advance Care Directive for Mental Health Care, Durable Power of Attorney, HIPAA Authorization Form and a FERPA Release. Blame my long, legal background, but if you have adult children, unmarried, 18 or over, you better have a few critical legal documents in place; signed, sealed and delivered. Imagine a nasty scenario: your daughter is a freshman at the college of her dreams; she experiences a health crisis, resulting in lack of consciousness and is taken to the ER. As her parent, you may not even be notified of her ER admittance, further, you would have no right to her medical records, or the right to make medical or financial decisions on her behalf. Scary, huh? Think what you want about the FERPA and HIPAA laws, but one thing is for sure, by their very nature, they protect the individual's privacy, and that includes keeping matters private from their parents. It's all about continuing to support and protect our kids during their college and early adult years. Read this comprehensive and valuable article by Erin M. Nadeau, Esq. Do. It.

http://survivingthecollegeapplicationprocess.com/getting-legal-house-order-adult-child-leaves-college/

 

By Shelly Humbach 13 Apr, 2017

‘Tis the time of year when many college bound students are weighing their options and trying to make the smartest (right) decision as to where to matriculate in the fall. Hopefully the choices are wonderful and while it’s great to have choices, sometimes they create another level of stress in this already stressful college application process.

Every year I have students who are clear on their first choice college, yet the financial aid offer is not enough for them to be able to attend. What, if anything can be done to garner more money? Families have the option to appeal for more financial aid; a process is in place and a financial aid officer has authority to make changes to their award.

Here are my five top tips on appealing and maximizing your chances of getting more aid:

1. Do The Math. Analyze and weigh the net costs of each school. How much grant and scholarship aid does the college need to offer to make it worthwhile? If the Cost of Attendance (COA) is $60,000.00 per year and the school offers $10,000.00 per year in grant and/or scholarship money, is that enough to make it work for your family? However, if you were awarded an additional $5,000.00, might that be doable?

2. Be Knowledgeable. Research the school’s financial aid policies and know the stats on what percentage of need the school typically meets and its students’ average grades and test scores on Collegedata.com . Call the appropriate financial aid representative then follow up with a letter, reiterating your circumstances and request. CC your contact within the admissions office. Make your case and fortify it with facts and a compelling story. Show the college that you are striving toward a partnership with a win-win end result.

3. Be Prepared. There are two basic reasons colleges might agree to raise their aid awards: because you have less money for college than it appears from your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) due to a change in financial circumstances, or because a competing college has made a more attractive offer. You can try either or both arguments with any college, but make sure you have the documentation* to support your position. 

4. Timing is Everything. File your appeal prior to depositing and before May 1, National Commit Day http://www.fastweb.com/college-search/articles/gear-up-for-national-decision-day and ask for an appointment with a financial aid officer so you can discuss the appeal in person or by phone. A single follow-up meeting reinforces your commitment to the school in a legit fashion, sans the annoyance factor.

5. Know The Lingo and Ask The Right Questions. Ask for a “professional judgment” review (that’s the term in the federal law for such appeals). Besides explaining and documenting the reasons to support the appeal, be bold in communicating to the college that it is the student’s first-choice school. 

6. Ask about “second chance” aid. Is there is anything the student can do in the next few weeks or months to qualify for merit awards? Would good grades in the final high school semester qualify the student for a grant? Or, if more freshman-year aid is out of the question, are there any scholarships the student can shoot for in sophomore year?

As my mother always said, “Ask. What’s the worst that can happen? They say no.” But if you don’t ask, you may be squandering thousands. Ouch.

*College officials frequently approve more aid to students who provide bills or other backup to show their FAFSA overestimates their ability to pay. For example, the family may face unusually high medical costs or a parent may have recently lost a job.

By Shelly Humbach 01 Mar, 2017

Good gosh, one more thing to throw money at for your kid. Is there no end to the bleeding? Coaches. Tutors. Test prep. Physical therapy. Counseling. College Coach. What???

As the mother of three daughters, I understand the financial pain associated with raising children and yes, it’s true, the older they get, the more expensive their “toys” get.  But just as true is the fact that we live in an insanely competitive culture that threatens to drive us all into the ground, not just emotionally, but financially. Where do we draw the line?

This is a tough question and the answers are deeply personal. The struggle is real. After raising three kids, I pretty much only know one thing for sure. Every family needs to do what works for them and be steadfast in their dismissal of all the outside “chatter”.

This rule of thumb applies to nearly everything. As parents, we simply cannot succumb to the perception of perfection and the unattainable ideal as seen in our daily Facebook feed. Parents must be damn sure they’re not living vicariously or otherwise through their children because the results are almost always disastrous.

When deciding whether to hire an IEC, families need to get real with what is important to them . They also need to embrace the whole “we don’t know what we don’t know” philosophy. Higher education is a privilege and an enormous investment. Seek a competent and compassionate expert to guide you through the process and the rest will work itself out. I promise.

Here are my top Do’s and Don’ts on working with an IEC.

Who.

1.  Interview one or more professionals. The IEC and the student need to fit. They’ll be spending quite a bit of time together and if personalities clash, the process and outcome will suffer.

2. Make sure the IEC is competent and qualified . Having helped their own child through the college process does not make one an expert in college admissions. The college process is very much a “moving target” and an IEC who is an expert in their field gets this. It’s not enough to know the basics.

3. Working with an IEC that is a member of one or more professional organizations is crucial. We are governed by the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) Statement of Principles of Good Practice and as a NACAC member are bound by these stringent ethical codes. Other professional organizations include: Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), and Independent Education Consultants Association (IECA).

4. A Board Certified Educational Planner (CEP) is the highest standard for an IEC and signifies their level of education and experience.

When.

1. The vast majority of my clients come in to my practice as sophomores and even freshmen . For years, I fought taking in students at this early stage but have found that the parents really appreciate having me “in house” for what is coming. Thus, at this stage, much of the guidance is for the parents with the shift to the student, taking place a bit later.

2.  Time is a luxury and that holds true for college planning. The more time we have to discover the student's needs, wants, special talents, and financial requirements – the better. That said it is best to have your IEC in place by the summer prior to junior year.

How.

1. Consider your family’s priorities, especially siblings. Have frank and frequent discussions about college expectations, especially the financial realities.

2.  Vet the IEC and interview them, with your student.

3. Be open and honest with what your family needs and wants. What does a successful outcome look like to you?

4. Make a list of questions and be prepared to discuss your concerns, fears and expectations.

5. What is the basic timeline for the entire process? Does the IEC advise on financial aid, FAFSA and scholarship searches?

6. Make sure your IEC has a detailed contract outlining the responsibilities and expectations of each party.

7. Does your IEC have a solid grip on the ROI ?  

The cost of a 4-year degree, in the United States is significant. In fact, it is likely the second largest investment a family will make, second only to their mortgage. When thought of in these terms, it becomes incredibly important that the family make informed and educated decisions. This is where the value of the IEC simply cannot be overstated.

Working with an IEC often leads to tremendous savings in the college investment. Not to mention the beautiful restoration of peace to your home and if that’s not valuable, I don’t know what is.

By Shelly Humbach 28 Jan, 2017

In 2016 I had the opportunity to spend several days on the University of Oklahoma campus in Norman, OK. Okay. Get over the name Norman and listen up. This school is the real deal, complete with a killer College of Architecture (can you say study abroad with Habitat for Humanity?), Honors College (with a living/learning option), a robust Engineering College (petroleum and aerospace to name two), oh and some football, all nestled within this charming, quintessential college town. OU has the nicest people in the world, big-league Meteorology and robust scholarship opportunities.


Based on the last admitted class (2016), here are some important stats:           

Undergraduates – 19,000

Freshman Retention Rate – 86%

Four-Year Graduation Rate – 38%

Acceptance Rate – 78%

Out-of-state Cost of Attendance - $37,000

Need-based award $122,814,373

Non need-based award - $49,384.992

Greek Life 22% of students participated in fraternities, 29% sororities

 

This campus is gorgeous and boasts 16 colleges, with six medical and health-related colleges on the OU campus Health Sciences Center. There are lots of smart cookies running around OU; they have bragging rights to more National Merit Scholars than any other school public or private.

By Shelly Humbach 06 Dec, 2016

As an Independent Education Consultant, my demographic is teens. Fortunately, I love and appreciate this age and often, my faith in humanity is literally restored by a one-hour college planning session with a high school student. Occasionally, I joke that they have a heavy burden of correcting many mistakes that my generation has made. I reassure them that I’m joking, even though I’m not, really.

Teenagers are a fascinating lot and I know from my work, as well as my personal life (my children are 25, 21 and 18), communicating with them can be a little tricky, if not downright exasperating. If I had a nickel for every time I nagged at my children, I’d have a ton of nickels. My logic stems from this: if they would just do as I say the first time, there would be no need to ask (nag) again. This factoid will make zero sense to them until they become parents.

I’m also keenly aware of the plight and suffering that can befall college freshmen. It’s not enough to be intellectually college-ready, students must have the emotional skills and stamina to withstand intense negative experiences. The increase in demand for college campus support services confirms this. Many of our kids are simply not ready or able to deal with their newfound independence, coupled with immense unscheduled time. Colleges are scrambling to meet the demands of student support and not just for mental health issues (although this is on a sharp rise). Food and alcohol bingeing, lack of discipline with regard to study habits and class attendance, and an inability to cohabitate with a roommate are just a few of the challenges that can quickly send a college student down a destructive path.

Effective communication opens up the possibility for occasional ‘teaching moments’. Teenagers know everything (just like we did) yet, if we’re lucky, we can still impart a golden nugget or two of information before they launch from home.

So, after much trial and error, behold my top 5 tips for successful communication with your teen.

 1.           At some point, and in spite of your teen’s complete lack of sense, you’ve got to trust the little darlings . As adults, we must summons our rational mind, although I recognize that having a rational mind while living with teens is often a paradoxical concept. Barring life and death situations, we must let them trip and fall, crash and burn. To not do so is to cripple them for life.

2.           Listen, listen and then listen some more . Agreed, parents have years of wisdom and life experiences but we must not let our desire to be right or be heard overtake our interactions with them. That’s what your best friend/therapist is for.

3.           Be present . For God’s sake, in the blink of an eye, they will be gone, leaving you in a pile of your own snot and tears. This was a hard one for me because I tend to become consumed with my work. I’m not suggesting you constantly make every waking moment about them (please, please don’t), I’m suggesting when you have the opportunity to make and enjoy a meal together, for example, tune in.

4.           The “do as I say and not as I do” philosophy is bunk. If you are alarmed and even offended at how much time your kid spends on their device, take a good hard look at your own habits. Do you bring your phone to the dinner table? Do you look at/use your phone while driving? Do you exercise appropriate impulse control around your device? If you can’t resist checking your phone while your teen is speaking to you , why would they? Children are sponges, and they don’t miss much. Even your teenager, who is dialed in to their device for what seems like 23.5 hours per day, is watching and listening and learning by your actions and behavior.

5.          Learn and embrace Generation Z. This remarkable generation is a powerhouse both in size and stature. To say Gen Z is tech savvy is the understatement of the year. They are super dialed in to their community, seamlessly blending work with service work. How cool is that? Market researchers, cultural observers and trend forecasters note this generation’s multi-cultural and worldly perspective. And while one could argue that these findings are more art than science, they make for fascinating discussion. For a wonderful article about Gen Z, read on.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/20/fashion/move-over-millennials-here-comes-generation-z.html?_r=0  
By Shelly Humbach 09 Nov, 2016

1.         Maintain that GPA . You may be all that and a bag of chips on the filed/court/course, but without the grades, your recruiting opportunities significantly diminish. Increasingly, colleges want students who think, not just play. Plus, the NCAA has core requirements. Make sure you meet them. Take ACT and/or SAT until you get the score you want/need.

2.         Continue to develop your sport : in-season, off-season and via summer programs. Consider an opposite season second sport, or better yet, become a yogi or Pilates practitioner. Physical activity that involves the mind and stretching the body means less injury, less burnout. Namaste.

3.         Draft an Athletic Resume (Google it) and prepare video. Plan unofficial visits to your top college choices. Phone contact is permissible at various times after your junior year.

4.         Research colleges and universities and become an expert on DI, DII and DII requirements as well as admission requirements for schools that interest you (or that may have shown an interest IN you). Junior year – Email coach in your sport at schools you have an interest and send resume. Complete the online questionnaires . Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center or NAIA Eligibility Center.

5.         Organization and timely responses are key when communicating with coaches. Keep them informed of athletic progress and any ‘resume’ changes. Schedule official college visits. Submit applications and complete all scholarship and financial aid forms. Be very aware of all deadlines , they are unforgiving.

Oh, and when you land that sweet athletic scholarship, be sure to formally thank all those who helped you along the way. Um, hello Mom, Dad, Coach…

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